Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once. –William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)
The Sales Blog mailbox today brings us an email titled “Anxiety.” The author requested that I tackle this subject here for him. Here is the pertinent part of his email:
I’ve been doing sales for 10 years. I know my dream clients are just waiting patiently for me to call, and I’m 100% sure that what I can offer them will create tremendous value and positive change for them. But at the same time, before every call, I get terrified. I just don’t know what’s on the other end. I grew up with email and chat lines so I feel nervous sometimes being in a real time conversation with no backspace key. Honestly, I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, but I’m not alone. It’s not just over the phone; sometimes I’ll sit outside my dream client’s door for way too long building up the courage. And if I do get it, I’ll be in and out so fast, and I can’t help but think I just got nervous and made for the exit before truly differentiating myself.
Ten years of this? Really? That’s a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering to endure for a decade! Let’s see if we can’t reframe some of this for you and free you from this nightmare of your own making.
You Really Have Nothing to Fear—And Everything to Gain
When I used to train salespeople to cold call, I would make them to roll play. I would have them call me, and then, in my most intimidating voice, I would yell at them and violently hang up the phone.
The salespeople making the calls, and all of their peers, would always laugh out loud. They would laugh because no one ever yells at you for calling (although a few will hang up on you). They would also laugh because they recognized that no harm could come to them through the telephone. In fact, no real harm can come to you from making sales calls at all. The exercise was absurd, and the absurdity proved the point.
Anxiety, you are creating a Hell in your mind that doesn’t exist out here in the real world. The things that you are telling yourself might happen aren’t really going to happen, and even if they did, absolutely no harm would come to you.
Might you say something stupid and embarrass yourself? Could you say or do something to blow the deal? Sure you could. We’ve all done it. But you are paying for those crimes before you’ve committed them.
You are a magician, and you were born with the ability to conjure up your own reality. Let yourself out of the Hell that you have put yourself in and instead paint a different picture in your mind. Try this.
Before making a call, instead of recounting all of the things that could go wrong, recount all of the things that could go right. Remind yourself of all of the clients that you have helped and all of the times that things went way better than you expected.
Make a list of your clients. Make a list of your accomplishments. Make a list of every good thing you have done. Put it in front of you. Remind yourself of who you really are.
You get decide whether you go into a call in a fearful state or a confident, resourceful state. Make a better choice.
Preparation Builds Confidence
Let’s move on. One of the primary ways that you can build your confidence in sales (or anything else) is to prepare. People are generally uncomfortable when they don’t know how things are going to go. The good news here is that it is very likely that you get to decide how things go.
You can write your cold calling scripts and dialogues. You can write language for every objection you have heard (my guess is that number is five). You can write a killer sales call opener that helps you get a commitment on how the sales call is going to go. You can also make a list of power questions to ask on each sales call.
You can prepare and rehearse for most of the common situations and the most questions you hear. Seriously, rehearsal breeds confidence.
You can even lean on this stuff in front of the client. You can say: “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about your account, and I made this list of questions I’d like to run through with you, if that’s okay. May I?” You won’t find many people who will object, and guess who will appear to have cared enough to prepare?
Kill Your Inner Critic
Anxiety, here is where it is going to get tough. If you really want the confidence that you need, you are going to have to go to war with your inner critic. Seriously, it’s a war. You are going to have to kill that dreadful little voice that you carry around in your head. You are going to have to snuff him out.
You are going to have to replace you inner critic with your inner “Tony Robbins.” You are going to have to replace the voice of doubt with the voice of confidence.
You are going to have to learn to believe in yourself, and you are going to have to learn how to talk to yourself to do it. The doubt and fear and scarcity that you deal with is all the result of the words that you use when you talk to yourself. When you talk to yourself, you talk to yourself about fear.
Change the words you use when you talk to yourself and you change the results. What would the powerful, confident, value-creating you say? Use those words when you talk to yourself.
Replace the voice of your inner critic with the confident voice that lives inside you and that you yourself have imprisoned. Take the key that you have always held in your own hands and release yourself from the shackles that you have used to lock away the best version of yourself.
The world is waiting.